Should the plans come true, the federal government, along with a growing number of jobs, would provide much-needed support to mothers and fathers.
This is where cultural change comes into play: During 40 percent of jobs now offer paternity leave to male workers, 70 percent of fathers who take parental leave lasts 10 days or less. In the meantime, mothers are literally paying the price to disrupt their careers. One study found that women who take even a year off paid employment over a 15-year period earn 39 percent less than women who work without a break.
The guilt doesn’t just lie with the men. Most mothers rightly fear that they will be punished for leaving, and a majority of Americans I still believe that men should be the breadwinners of the family. So we need jobs to motivate – or better yet, expect – men to take that vacation when they are offered and to welcome women back to the office without penalty or punishment when they want to return.
But justice in the workplace is only possible if there is justice at home too. Mothers report that they work longer and harder at home than fathers. For heterosexual couples, it’s a pretty straightforward equation – if we want to shift some of the burden from mothers, we need to shift more of that onto fathers.
Millions of women also raise children with no fathers in the picture because they are single parents, same-sex unions, or co-parents with a friend or family member. Changing our outdated conceptions of the roles and responsibilities of a family unit will only confirm that every family type is a family.
We don’t need to imagine what our nation would be like if we made this change. Icelandic parents – men and women – receive six months of paid vacation at 80 percent of their median income. In Norway women do it just 59 minutes more unpaid housework per day than men; in the United States, the number is 105 minutes. In Denmark, couples spend less than half of American money on childcare. All of these countries report better Health outcomes a smaller one for children and mothers gender gap and higher levels of luck than the United States.
And that’s the point: would support mothers better Benefit all Americans – not only mothers, but also fathers and children, employees and employers, communities in every city and district and especially color communities.
Mother’s Day is an American tradition. Such is the trivialization of motherhood. If we are to celebrate the former, we must put an end to the latter. More than flowers and saccharine cards, mothers deserve recognition of the broken motherhood in America – and a plan to fix it.
Reshma Saujani is the founder of the Marshall Plan for Mothers Campaign and girls that code. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Pay Up: Reimagining Motherhood in America.
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